Dating 101

Post-first date. This is dating at its most awkward. (Well, nearly its most awkward.) Coach your daughter on how to handle those unavoidable rites of dating. For instance, if she doesn't feel any sparks but he asks her out again, her response should be that although he's a great guy she's not ready to start dating anyone on any kind of exclusive or steady basis. She'd rather just be friends. (The key is to be kind but firm.) If she wants to see him again, it's okay to send a quick, cute email thanking him for showing her a great time. If they start going steady, remind her to maintain her friendships. It would be uncool for her to ignore her best buddies.


Heartbreak. It will definitely be rough if she goes out a few times with a boy and the relationship tanks. It's rougher still if they're in school together, where she's forced to see him every day. Talk to her about your first forays at love, your first disappointments, and how you got over the ones that got away. My philosophy: It's always good to expand yourself as a person, to have many interests and passions and people in your life along the way. It's important to be a whole person rather than dedicating your life to the pursuit of love. When things don't work out, you'll be crushed because you've made it the center of everything. Tell your daughter how important it is to keep things in perspective when she's young and finding out who she is.

Red flags. It's your job as a mom to make sure your pride and joy is being treated with respect and care. If she's frequently crying because this boy is not calling when he says he will, breaking dates, bringing her home past curfew or trying to get her to try drugs or indulge in other dangerous behavior, beware. You want to gently but firmly steer your daughter away from trouble. (Come on too strongly and you may set up a Romeo-and-Juliet-style situation.) The message you want to instill in her is that she is a bright, special, unique individual who deserves nothing but the best. And that includes the best, brightest, most moral and decent boy around.

This week's exercise: Dating Lessons: Rites and Rights

• Read tips for teens on surviving "The Talk"
Five points that mom MUST cover when having "The Talk"
Test yourself with the Talking to Kids about Sex -- Did You Do It Right? Quiz
Take Your Mom Online: Moms and Teens Connect

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